Birding round Durham & Sunderland 2012

Birdwatching in & around Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland, County Durham.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Couple of visits to the sea-side

We managed to get through to the coast on Tuesday evening & saw at least a dozen Storm Petrels passing north in just over an hour nr Ryhope 8pm till 9pm ( more than ive ever seen ).
2 lingered offshore feeding , pattering about & resting on the sea, while the others moved through north.
best record shot i could manage on a dull damp windy evening...

At one point , a Petrel was chased by a large gull - the petrel got away by spinning round in a large 360 degree turn.
Others seen on this brief sea-watch included Puffin, Manx Shearwater, Turnstone & Common Scoter.

We also had a couple of walks further south along the coast from Blackhall to Crimdon stretch
The Little Terns have done well this season with 80+ clutches hatched out . 

We counted 100 or so Littles on the beach at low water late this week - lots of fledged juveniles being fed at regular intervalds & a couple of pairs with late broods of small chicks only just hatched inside the colony (the warden had checked on a clutch the previous day , we found the chicks through the scope). 

Every now and then an enterprising Common Tern was profiting from their smaller cousins endeavours...
It was harrassing the small terns into giving up their catches.
The Littles were very reluctant to part with their prize with long chases ensuing - 1 juvenile even clipping the wire fence as it was harried.
On several occassions the Littles did submit, flicking their fish to be caught mid-air in a split second by the pirate right on their tail.... Imediately the adult Common would return to the shoreline, delivering the catch to its own fledged youngster !

Also of interest along this stretch was a Common Lizard soaking up the sun, a couple of Argus butterfly, recent evidence of Barn Owl activity, Ringed Plover with young of several sizes, a large raft of Scoter & a small flock of Sanderling were nice to see in summer finery as was a superb russet Bar tailed Godwit as it flew north overhead.

The point were the Limestone cliffs of Blackhall Rocks, make way for Crimdons sand dunes.

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